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Game 1: Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes

The Tampa Bay Lightning won their season opener at the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 5-1.

Of course, it didn’t start out looking very pretty. The first period was inconsistent, sloppy, and just overall a mess. But, that’s the sort of thing you have to expect in the first game of the year. No one will come out of the gate absolutely perfect.

The first half of the game, the Lightning took twice as many penalties as the Hurricanes did. And all of them were just sloppy things that they’d gotten called for. Interference is not an often called penalty in the NHL – though, perhaps it ought to be – but it was called three times in this game; twice on the Lightning and once on Carolina.

With all of the interference calls, it does make one wonder if that’s a carry-over from Brendan Shanahan’s new reign as head of player safety / discipline.

After Martin St. Louis tied the game up 5:19 into the second period, the Lightning started to get back into the rhythm of things. They definitely had had the kinks smoothed out after Vincent Lecavalier’s game-winning power play goal later in the second. After that, it was just running through the system that most of them already knew.

To me, this game had something of a playoff air about it. I’m not sure if that was somehow a continuation of the playoff mentality they all had five months ago or not. But they didn’t have that typical first game of the season perspective.

I’m sure a lot of that has to do with the fact that Guy Boucher has them play in a playoff style even during the regular season. Which, I think, is definitely a good thing. If they’re in the habit of doing that for 82 games, then no one has to think about stepping things up for playoffs. It worked well for them last season, and they had to figure things out the first couple of months. Who knows how far it’ll get them this year.

Some notable statistics from the game are: Lecavalier won eight out of 13 faceoffs, winning 62%; St. Louis & Ryan Malone had four shots on goal each out of the team’s 34 total; Pavel Kubina had four blocked shots; and Steve Downie had four hits

The next game is Saturday (tonight), 8 October, at the Boston Bruins. Game time is 7 pm ET. The Raw Charge game thread will be available half an hour before every game.

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